Testing the Teachers
We live in an amazing time.
In our Western culture, we
have access to an astounding
number of resources that claim
to teach truths of the Christian faith.
As you walk or click into a Christian
bookstore, how do you discern which
books will be edifying and which may
lead you astray or merely tickle your
ears? Should you read the book with
the flashiest display? The one with the
biggest smile on the cover?
Beyond books, we have access to
conferences, online sermons, and
other types of teaching. One popular
website hosts 1.5 million sermons
with teaching from many different
theological perspectives. Finding the
best among the good and bad can be a
challenge, so we must “test the spirits”
to know if the teaching is true (1 John 4:1). Look for teaching that meets these
- Doctrinally Sound
their denominational affiliation or
statement of faith, a teacher must hold
to orthodox doctrine (1 Timothy 6:3–10). Denying any core doctrines should
earn them a quick trip to the trash bin
(for example, denying the Trinity or
promoting salvation by works).
- Drawn from Scripture
God gives us
all things that pertain to life and godliness
(2 Peter 1:3), and knowledge of
him starts with the Bible. A life built
on any other foundation is destined
to crumble. Building life principles
on secular science or psychology will
lead you astray from wisdom that
begins only with God (Colossians 2:8–10). Teachers who incorporate
evolutionary views or cultural norms
as the standard of truth will likely
undermine God’s Word in more places
than the opening chapters of Genesis,
although this is not always the case.
- Gospel Focused
Avoid teaching that
calls you to rely on your own strength
to earn God’s acceptance rather than
resting in what the Father has done for
you in Christ by the Spirit’s work.
- Historically Attested Treat with
great caution anyone who produces
a new perspective on a teaching
accepted in the church for millennia.
The 66 books of the Bible frame
the truth delivered once for all to the
saints (Jude 3).
Nobody has perfect theology, but
how much error can a teacher hold and
still be worth learning from? Mature
believers will have a more developed
ability to eat the meat and spit out the
bones, but everyone has a limit. You
must pray for wisdom, seek wise counsel,
and walk in the Spirit to ensure
that you don’t fall prey to false teachers
(Matthew 7:15). Seeking to understand
those who are on the opposite
side of an issue can help refine our
own thinking, but a constant diet of
error can become a defiling influence.
Regardless of how much you trust
a teacher, compare what they say to
Scripture and hold fast to what is good
(1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Just Me and My Bible
Some Christians claim that all they need to live a godly life is the Scriptures
and the Holy Spirit. While there is a kernel of truth there, commentaries,
study notes, and Bible dictionaries offer all Christians a wealth of insight
into the history connected to a passage, figures of speech in the original
languages, and traditions and customs of the time. We more fully understand
accounts like the bargaining scene in Genesis 20 and the care taken with the
body of Christ at his burial by using these tools.
God has given us teachers in our local churches and in the broader church
to help us grow (Ephesians 4:11–12). He has even been gracious to us in
providing technologies to preserve the teachings of many godly men and
women since the founding of the church. All these resources can be used to
enhance our study of God’s Word but should never replace it.
Of course, we always compare what a commentary says to the inspired
words of Scripture, but we should consider what other brothers and sisters
have learned about our glorious God through his revelation to us.
before joining Answers in Genesis. He earned his BS Ed
degree in biology from Montana State University Billings.
Roger is author of Evolution Exposed and serves on AiG’s
editorial review board.